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Fraser backs Live8 concerts -

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Fraser backs Live8 concerts

Reporter: Maxine McKew

MAXINE McKEW: Now to the serious purpose behind what's been touted as the biggest rock concert ever
staged. At least a million people attended the 10 free Live8 concerts held across the world at the
weekend, while an estimated 3 billion watched on television. Many of the biggest names in showbiz
joined Sir Bob Geldof in urging the world's most powerful leaders to wipe out Africa's crippling
debt, to increase aid and to dismantle trade barriers when the G8 summit convenes in Scotland later
this week. Debt relief is already on the G8 agenda, and US President George W Bush today said that
trade can be facilitated if the European Union reduces its farm subsidies. If that happens, said
the President, then the US would follow suit. But will such moves be enough to turn the tide of
human misery in Africa? While he may not have graced the Live8 stage, former Prime Minister Malcolm
Fraser has had a lifelong passion for the plight of Africa. I spoke to the founding chairman of the
aid organisation CARE International earlier today. Malcolm Fraser, the cynics, of course, take the
view that the Live8 concerts at the weekend were really little more than a bunch of ageing rock
stars getting together and looking for a cause. You take a kinder view. Why is that?

MALCOLM FRASER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think it's wonderful that they've tried to get world
attention for the problems of Africa. This happened 20 years ago and not a great deal happened as a
consequence. But to do it again is a good thing and I believe ought to be applauded. Africa is on
the agenda in a way that it hasn't been for perhaps 30 years, and the more support there can be,
the more political leaders can understand that ordinary people are concerned, the more chance that
those political leaders will take some action.

MAXINE McKEW: Of course, the critical point about this rock concert is that it's being held ahead
of the G8 leaders getting together in Scotland, and of course leading it this time is Tony Blair.
Do you think Mr Blair's advocacy in terms of Africa is the critical difference this time?

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, it is a critical difference. He's not only chairman of the EU, but Tony Blair
has been arguing for free trade, arguing that Europe should open its doors to African goods. I
think it's the first time that a significant leader from any significant country has taken that
point of view. So this is a very real difference, and Prime Minister Blair should be very much
supported.

MAXINE McKEW: Well, on the trade question, it's interesting. It looks like it's a question of who
is going to blink first. We've had President George Bush saying today - setting really an ultimatum
to the European Union - saying, "It's up to you to remove your agricultural subsidies, open your
markets to Africa and then we'll make a move."

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, I think that's a wonderful thing if that puts more pressure on the Europeans
to open their markets, but it would be equally open to President Bush to take a lead and to say,
"We're going to open our markets. Now, why don't you follow us?" And Japan shouldn't be forgotten
in this equation also, because their agricultural protection is just as bad as America's, just as
bad as the European Union's.

MAXINE McKEW: If I could come back to the debt question, of course, this was central to the Live8
message, to wipe out debt for Africa. We have already seen, of course, Tony Blair's Chancellor,
Gordon Brown, putting a debt write-off plan on the table for at least 18 countries at this stage
with the promise of more to come. What do you think, though, is the key to this, to making sure
that the African nations - if this happens, if we get the debt write-off - that the African nations
don't get caught up in a debt trap all over again?

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, this is the merry-go-round we've been on before, and debt has been written
off for the poorest countries on two or three earlier occasions and then debt builds up again, and
it has built up because most of the aid from Europe and most of the aid from the United States has
been in the form of loans. Australia's foreign aid is in the form of grants. So the European Union
and American foreign aid - you write off debt, then you make loans, and debt builds up again. So
the quality of aid should be greatly improved and aid should be in the form of grants so that we
don't have to visit this question in future years. But the other key to it, of course, is to enable
Africa to sell what Africans can produce best and that's mostly going to be agricultural goods of
one kind or another.

MAXINE McKEW: Just on your point, though, about turning loans into grants, how do you ensure, so
that more grants don't end up enriching corrupt African rulers, that the money really doesn't end
up back in bank accounts say in Europe somewhere?

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, I think that donor countries should insist on a very high degree of
transparency. Everyone knows what auditing is about, and the money trail can be followed. Countries
that are in receipt of significant volumes of foreign aid should account for it in a transparent,
open, on-top-of-the-desk way, and unless they're prepared to do that, you can't expect donors to go
on putting money in their direction.

MAXINE McKEW: If I can cite one country where you've had a considerable input into its birth as an
independent country, and of course that's Zimbabwe, if you look at the latest example of
self-inflicted misery and poverty, it's really in that country and it's all because of the
activities of President Mugabe and his forcible removal of thousands of people and, of course, in
the process, ruining their livelihoods.

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, Zimbabwe seems to have gone through one tragedy after another and this is the
latest chapter, it's the latest tragedy. I don't think Caucasian countries, or white countries, the
old countries of the Commonwealth, are really going to be able to influence this situation in a
major way. But I really do believe that if President Mbeki, President Obasanjo of Nigeria - South
Africa and Nigeria together can make it plain that Africa will not tolerate this kind of behaviour
from African leaders.

MAXINE McKEW: But the point is they do tolerate it, don't they?

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, I think it's up to them to demonstrate that they don't. The African
organisations, continent-wide organisations, now have a commitment to human rights, so it's up to
them to make sure that that commitment is maintained, that human rights are preserved. Now, often
African leaders say they can look after their own affairs; they don't want outside interference
from Europe or the United States. This is a classic opportunity for them to demonstrate that there
is some reality, some meaning in those remarks.

MAXINE McKEW: To come back to the politics, then, of the G8 meeting and to ensure that even more
opportunities aren't lost, what would you like to see come out of the meeting in Scotland this
week?

MALCOLM FRASER: Well, I'd like to see three things: the debt write-off, of course; future aid given
in the form of grants and not of loans so we don't have to revisit the debt question again; and
then, of course, I would like to see markets opened. Now, these things have been on the agenda in
previous decades, probably originally 30, 35 years ago, but nothing ever happened. The significant
difference: Britain, Prime Minister Blair, is now advocating opening markets for African products,
and I really hope that he can persuade the European Union and perhaps also persuade President Bush.
President Bush, I think, owes Prime Minister Blair a number of favours. So together they ought to
be able to persuade the G8 and other advanced countries to open their markets, and Japan should not
be forgotten in that equation.

MAXINE McKEW: Mr Fraser, we'll see what transpires later in the week, but for your time, thank you
very much indeed, sir.

MALCOLM FRASER: Thank you very much.